UCLA study says 70% reduction in risk for those who always wear a facemask

I’d say you have put it better and more succinctly than I have.

I’d only add that I think the government should be sourcing and supplying the good stuff to the general public since they may not source it on their own. Korea did that by subsiding KF94 masks and insuring wide distribution via pharmacies and purchase limits. The US public is a bit less civic minded, so our distribution model might have to be a lot different, but I think is worth doing.

I’m all for that. But we still need wide, high quality mask distribution because there may be covid variants the current vaccinations don’t prevent. Masks are going to be an important part of responsible people’s lives for a long time.

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Too little, too late. Your enhanced mask plan will be complete right around the time that they will no longer be needed.

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I don’t think anybody can dispute that better masks = better protection. It’s all academic if it’s prohibitively difficult or expensive to get these, though.

Given that it’s still near impossible to find respirator grade masks around here and it’s risky and expensive to buy them online, cloth masks it is. I have a whole boatload of them that I can wear, wash, and rotate through.

(I actually found a small stash of N95 masks in storage, but I’m holding on to them for now because they are so precious.)

That’s optimistic. I can see mask wearing becoming far more commonplace, just like it has been in parts of Asia for decades. Maybe not 100% of the time, but far more than we’re accustomed to moving forward.


We will have to disagree on that. You are making several large assumptions. 1) That there will be sufficient vaccine compliance to give herd immunity to the population and 2) that the there won’t be outbreaks of covid variants that the the vaccines don’t prevent.

Unfortunately, there is very good reason to believe that political ideology-based rejection of science and the covid vaccine in particular will reduce vaccination levels to below that needed for herd immunity. And there is already concern that there are existing variants of covid that the current vaccines will not prevent.

We can’t count on vaccinations alone to save us in the near future. We have to continue to use multiple methods to reduce the the infection rate, and masks are one of the simplest methods we have for doing that, and they are much better at doing that if we use better masks.

Given the political resistance to full mask compliance, the easiest and most practical way we have to compensate for that is to increase the quality of the masks worn by people who are compliant.

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Even a counterfeit KN95 mask may be a filter better than a cloth mask, though. Cloth masks are that bad.

I agree that sourcing is an issue. That’s why I bought 20 KF94s from the main supplier Arron Collins buys from and tests. About $3.50 a mask for what I bought, which Collins considers high. There are cheaper KF94s that Collins likes, but I wanted black.

I still have some of my old stash of vented California fire season N95s for special occasions, now with tape over the valves.

I’ve seen KF94 style KN95s at Business Costco for $1 each in 50 packs, but I’m less sure of their provenance and efficacy, which is why I went with Collins’s preferred, and tested, supplier even though it was more expensive.

But if you are really serious about masks you can get a 3M industrial half face mask with N100 filters. They are still available. You can cover the exhaust port with appropriate mask material so that it meets the requirements for a source control mask.

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You just described the existing conditions regarding mask use. Listen to yourself.


I assume they are single use? That adds up really quickly. Until good quality masks can reach a certain level of ubiquity and cost effectiveness I think things like this will be a non-starter for a lot of folks.

Of course these are things the government could help with and as of yet has refused to do. Maybe things will be different soon, but I’m not holding my breath.


Let me correct it for you since you seem to want to ignore the forest for the pedantic a this point:

Unfortunately, there is very good reason to believe that political ideology-based rejection of science and the covid vaccine in particular will keep vaccination levels to below that needed for herd immunity.

And thus we really need masks, and to get as many people wearing better masks because so many people refuse to wear any masks.

But today’s reality is a more important factor than your hypotheticals.

Today’s reality: mask compliance is poor.

What makes you think you can improve that?

Moreover, while I’m a believer that the government can do great things, I don’t think the government can do great things fast. Will better masks matter in September? And at what cost to the vaccination effort?

I’d refer you to Aaron Collins videos. He’s run some tests of the same mask used for multiple days to test how much the mask looses efficacy over time since there is concern over how long electrostatic filtering face pieces stay effective. I’ve heard 4 hours, and 8 hours. But I’ve never seen data on it. So far, Collins considers them good for at least 30 hours - letting them sit for a few days in between uses as a way to let any possible Covid inactivate (he’s not medically trained, so I wouldn’t take his specific guesstimates of Covid longevity as gospel, but it is considered to in inactivate on its own after a certain amount of time - I use a 1-week cycle based on some old recommendations that may or may not still be valid). Plus the price can get down to $2.00 a mask or less depending on the model, sales and quantity.

A CE rated Korean made FFP2 mask that Collins doesn’t love but performed as claimed uses nano filtration media that be sanitized with ethanol up to 10 times is the AirQueen Breeze. (He figures if you can use a $2 KF94 mask with 99% effectiveness that doesn’t collapse inward when you breathe for 30 hours, why would you want a 95% one that does collapse, even if you can sanitize it).

But check out the vids for yourself if you want more info.

Haven’t we just established that even if mask compliance remains static that improving mask quality of those that do comply reduces the overall infection rate, as per the study referenced by the OP? I’m not really getting the basis for your push back on this simple math.

No, unless you’re referring to the one you seem to have imagined in your head. There is nothing in the OP (or the NBC news story, or the underlying research paper) that establishes that mask quality remains static, or that there is any experimental evidence that shows that mask quality reduces the overall infection rate. There is a model that implies it, but even in the footnote of that model it notes that there is a trade off between compliance and mask quality.

So I’m not pushing back against any math at all; I’m pushing back against the assertions that you’re making that aren’t backed by any of the three layers of material of the OP.

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There are no footnotes to the PNAS article about the content of the article, just credits and a declaration of no competing interest. And there is no mention in the modeling section of the article about mask compliance being lower with higher quality masks. Nor can I find any reference to such a claim in the article that was source for the modeling figure, Calibrated Intervention and Containment of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Do you have a quote in mind for that claim?

Do you really believe that cloth masks and respirator grade masks have the same efficacy in preventing the spread of respiratory infections via aerosols? Really? Because I don’t believe you do. But if you do, why don’t you and I go visit a covid ICU. I’ll wear and N100 and you can wear a cloth mask. :thinking:

This is a straw man argument. Nobody is disputing that respirator masks won’t offer superior protection in all cases.



DT is defiantly disputing the the compliance vs. mask efficacy model, because reasons.

I tried to track down the “footnote” he claimed says compliance is reduced by higher quality masks, but found no sign of it. Citation Needed.

Which, again is not saying arguing that better masks don’t offer better protection. That seems like an absurd interpretation to me.

The question being posed here the best I can tell is are better masks necessary in ordinary use cases.


So much of the argument seems to be “Better masks are better!” “Yeah, but significantly so?”

As a public policy issue, I think that we should be thinking about what kinds of masks people are actually willing and able (in terms of financial means) to wear, not to mention wear properly. Nobody seems to be disputing that N94/95 masks are better than surgical masks are better than washable cloth masks.

Rather than arguing about whether higher quality masks are necessary, I think that our energies would be better spent focusing on the real goal here: reducing overall infections as quickly as possible and in practical terms. It would be great if we could get N95 masks in everyone’s hands, make sure that they know how to use them properly and disinfect them for repeated use (which I honestly am still not so sure about…), but the practical reality is that right now, at this moment, the best thing for everyone to do is to wear a mask, any mask. If they can afford better masks and know how to use them, then by all means, they should. But any mask is better than no mask, and right now we are facing a no mask kind of situation.

Just my two cents.


I’m not an epidemiologist. But I do have a lot of experience reading and interpreting contour-plot style charts in the world of statistics. My take-away from the paper is:

  • better masks are better - appreciably so.
  • better masks aren’t so important when you have high adherence; when everyone is wearing a mask, a bandana or scarf will help.
  • when less than half the population is wearing masks, every mask counts, and the quality of the masks counts. If you live in a high-risk area and can easily get a good mask, then please get a good one. You not getting sick is what breaks the chain. Put another way: The people not wearing masks are making this a higher risk, so your mask has to do double-duty and be twice as good. This is not to say cloth masks are no good. But they’d be a lot better if more people wore them.

Pretty sure reasonable people can disagree over the finer details of that. The broad strokes seem solid to me.

The really hard part for the US is how wearing a mask has been turned into a political statement that makes it nearly impossible for adherence to be greater than 50%.

Me: I tend to wear cloth masks. I live in Australia. When masks are mandated, adherence is high. When they’re not mandated, it’s because we don’t have an active outbreak and the risk is very low. By “very low risk”, I mean: on days when people get diagnosed with Covid, it makes the national news.

We have been damn lucky. I feel for the US. Hugs, y’all.


Thank you for the easy-to-understand analysis of the statistics.

This! I have always been of the philosophy that you wear a mask to protect others more than to protect yourself. If we could just get compliance up, we wouldn’t need to worry so much about the right kind of masks.

In the country where I live, N95 masks are not readily available, but I will wear two surgical masks if going to a high-risk area like a major train station or hospital.

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Where is your country, and what’s the mask-wearing rate like on an average day?

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